I certainly don’t remember my mother having a strong attachment to any of the people who taught me how to read, how to swim, how to cycle, how to play music… although she would probably remember their names, as I spoke of them like they were part of my family:
Margaret Howard, who sang like a nightingale and gave me a passion for music
Rick Pethic, who smelled like cigarettes and coffee, and turned me into a flautist
Brenda Green, who became my whole world in Year 5 when my parents separated
Anne-Marie Dunning, who terrified, amused and fascinated me into being a good nurse
I truly loved these people. They introduced me to new worlds that ignited my imagination, fascination and passion. They taught me that teachers were human people who did their very best, taking care of me at times when others couldn’t.
But these aren’t MY teachers that I’m talking about now. I am talking about the people who teach my kids…
My children’s Kindy teachers are like soul-sisters to me. They know all about my babies- they have watched them grow, dried their tears, wiped their bottoms and loved them openly…all of the things I do and more sometimes. They are patient and kind, when sometimes I am not. They see beauty and innovation, where sometimes I can not. They are my children’s carers, for half the year, when I am not. And sometimes, ever so often, they comfort and care for me…
I will never forget the cheeky coach who taught my son to play sports because he did something for my child that I could not. He taught him that exercise is fun and not a chore. He has made it a normal part of my boy’s everyday life, and in doing so, has laid a strong foundation for his health and well-being.
My daughter’s swimming coach is the reason I drive 20 minutes for a 30 minute class. My friend travels an hour just so this wonderful woman can train her 3-year-old. Why, when there are at least 5 other schools within spitting distance of home? Because she is strict, she is focused and SHE LOVES OUR KIDS! We can see it, and the kids can feel it! Last month we all turned up at the pool, only to find that this beloved teacher of two years had gone without trace, with a new coach in her place. The kids were devastated, but a lot more resilient than the Mums were. We tried to track her down, so we could give her the recognition and thanks she deserves for teaching our kids how to swim, perhaps saving their lives in doing so… but to no avail. It feels like we have lost a dear friend.
For Mother’s Day, my son’s Prep teacher gave a speech to the mothers of her class as her gift to us. And during that speech, she cried, and so did we. She said it was a big responsibility for her to care for our little people, because they are our treasures, our dreams and our wishes that came true. She knows that we have loved them since the very beginning, and quoted her mother, by saying we would continue to “love them more than forever”.
As a mother, she understands that our children fill our hearts with joy, wear us out and push our buttons. But she also reminded us that they have helped make us the women that we are today. “Never forget that you are their person,” she said. “You are the one that they want and need most. In class, when we talk about love, these little people all talk about you.”
While we wiped away our tears, she thanked us for doing such a wonderful job raising our children, and loving them like we do. We listened to her carefully when she told us to stop often and look at their beautiful skin, their round faces, their tiny hands and their giant hearts, because this wonderful time will pass and there’s no going back.
So, these incredible people are not just teaching our children, are they?
We are never too old to learn from teachers, even if technically, they’re not ours. By looking after our children, they are also taking care of us, and for that, I will always keep a special place in my heart just for them.
Watch this amazing TED video of Rita Pearson, a fantastic educator, on the subject of children’s champions. Are you lucky enough to have someone as passionate teaching your kids?
Caylie writes weekly essays on her blog, Distractions of a Busy Mother, to help people feel less alone through shared laughter, tears and inspiration. She works to transform everyday events into vivid sketches, showing an understanding of what parents, women and people in the community are going through.
Her first book, Bedtime Stories for Busy Mothers, is now available for purchase online, at selected books stores and via her website.